Building the Medieval World

Building the Medieval World

By Christine Sciacca
J.Paul Getty Museum / British Library, 2010
ISBN: 978-1-60606-006-3

Some of the great and lasting achievements of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are the architectural wonders of soaring cathedrals and grand castles and palaces. While many of these edifices survive, many more are lost, and it is within the pages of illuminated manuscripts that we often find the best record of the appearance of these amazing buildings. This volume, a joint publication of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the British Library, illustrates the creative ways in which medieval artists represented architecture, offering insight into what these buildings meant for medieval people. Such structures were not just made to be inhabited—they symbolized grandeur, power, and even heaven on earth.

From the author, Christine Sciacca, assistant curator in the Department of Manuscripts at the J. Paul Getty Museum: “The captivating castles and cathedrals of medieval Europe have been studied extensively, but relatively little has been said about what happened when medieval artists took it upon themselves to depict these buildings in the pages of illuminated manuscripts. These vibrant painted images not only document structures sometimes long destroyed, they also tell us a great deal about what people of the time thought about these buildings and what their greater meaning was for the individuals who lived with them every day.”

Table of Contents

Introduction: Architecture in the Medieval World

The Castle
Church Spaces
Medieval Cities, Towns and Countryside
Documenting Historical Buildings
Medieval Construction Methods
Focus: Architecture Inside and Out

Architecture in Scripture
Architecture in Medieval Literature
Saints and Their Architectural Symbols
The Virgin Mary and the Church
Focus: Architecture Takes Center Stage

Architecture in the Margins
Triumphal Arches and Niches of Honor
Framing Charts and Texts
Structural Compositions
Focus: Architecture Abstracted

Click here to see Building the Medieval World: Architecture in Illuminated Manuscripts – exhibition held in 2010 at the Getty Center

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